Feda_iyan-e Islam was a Shi_ite fundamentalist group that was founded in Iran in 1945 by Sayyed Mujtaba Mir Lauhi (known as Navvab-e Safavi), a man then in his early twenties, with little or no formal Islamic education. Unsettled by the writings of the controversial essayist and historian Ahmad Kasravi, Safavi masterminded his assassination in March 1946. This was followed by the assassination in November 1949 of _Abd al-Husayn Hazhir, the influential minister of court, and in March 1951 of prime minister Hajji _Ali Razmara, who opposed the nationalization of the British-owned oil industry. The Feda_iyan had enlisted the support of the activist ayatollah Abu ’l-Qasem Kashani, but failed to win over the highest-ranking religious authority in the country, Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi.
The Feda_iyan’s relations with Kashani became strained due to the latter’s support for prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, who assumed power in late April 1951. Refusing to give in to the Feda_iyan’s demands for the establishment of shari_a regulations, Mosaddeq detained Safavi in June 1951. In February 1952, the Feda_iyan’s attempted assassination of Mosaddeq’s key colleague, Husayn Fatimi, left Fatimi severely injured. By mid-1952 the Feda_iyan had resumed its ties with Kashani, who had begun to oppose Mosaddeq. In the months preceding the coup of August 1953, which toppled Mosaddeq, the Feda_iyan’s antigovernment position led the American and British secret services to count on the group to help oust Mosaddeq. In November 1954 the group’s failed attempt on the life of prime minister Husayn _Ala resulted in the execution of Safavi and three of his colleagues. Despite this crippling blow, affiliates of the group were able to assassinate nother prime minister, Hasan _Ali Mansur, in January 1965. Based mainly in Tehran, the Feda_iyan largely consisted of young men of limited education, lower class origins, and traditional occupations. The group appealed to the resentments of the lower and underclass urban elements; this, together with its challenge to the ruling elite, enabled it to acquire a significance disproportionate to its size. Ideologically resembling the al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, the Feda_iyan espoused a literal reading of Islamic writings and laws; they abhorred what they considered to be decadence resulting from irreligion; they feared modernity, secularism, communism, and civic-nationalism, and were bent on eliminating those whom they regarded as obstacles in their path or stooges of foreigners. Their primary goal was to establish the shari_a, giving a crucial sociopolitical role to clerics. Following the revolution of 1978 and 1979, many of the beliefs that had animated the Feda_iyan became part of the ruling ideology but gradually came to be identified with the proclivities of the Iranian regime’s traditionalist and right-wing factions